Mindfulness in Schools
Intrigued by that state of mindfulness in schools and education, I spent the morning doing some research.
I have split what I found into what I hope to be quite useful sections for anyone wanting a quick low down and a spring board for your own research.
What is Mindfulness
“Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” Mindful.org
“Paying more attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you – can improve your mental wellbeing.” NHS
School Mindfulness in the News...
‘Happiness is more important than academic success and should be factored into the curriculum” is the conclusion of Professor Richard Layer from the London School of Economics. He used data from more that 100,000 people to draw this conclusion. The video follows a school that has taken his advice.
A group of 20 school children test the effects of practising mindfulness on stress and concentration. Test results were mixed but overall, students reported a positive effect on their wellbeing and an improvement in focus.
A look at the positive impact mindfulness practice has had on the wellbeing of young people in a deprived area of Merseyside.
A school attributes mindfulness and learning resilience outside the classroom, amongst other strategies, to helping it become the highest ranked school in the North according to Parent Power.
Article about MiSP’s A ‘Million’ Minds Matter’ which is their campaign to use mindfulness to improve the mental health of a million young people. The MISP also stresses the importance of teachers’ wellbeing and the impact that has on the pupils. Their training starts with the teacher.
MISP is a registered charity that aims to “improve the lives of children by making a genuine, positive difference to their mental health and wellbeing.” They are the leading providers of school-based mindfulness training and resources.
They have several courses which you need to progress through:
- .begin – Learn the basics yourself before teaching. An online course over 8 weeks. It is a prerequisite for the other courses. £130 – £190 plus VAT
- Teach Paws .b – 3 day course for teaching mindfulness to 7 to 11 year olds. £465 plus VAT
- Teach.b – 4 day course to teach the .begin mindfulness to 11 to 18 year olds. £625 plus VAT
- .b Foundation – 6 day residential course for Teachers to be the Mindful Lead at their school. £1050 plus VAT
Apps for mindfulness for young people
Use of Apps that offer guided meditation have made practising meditation very accessible and have contributed significantly to its rise in popularity.
Calm is one of the most popular meditation apps out there. They offer free access for teachers to the ever expanding library of guided meditation, including Calm Kids. All you have to do is fill out the form on the page and you’re away.
Smiling Mind have a free app that offers guided meditations aimed at various ages groups and classroom sessions.
It is probably fair to say that Headspace pioneered guided mediation apps and played a big role in the rise of its popularity.
Articles on Mindfulness in School
Quite an old article but when you consider how long mindfulness has actually been around for, this should not be a concern!
An article by Smiling Minds who offer training in Australia for schools about the benefits of mindfulness. Their slogan is ‘Wellbeing and learning can’t be separated‘
A comprehensive article by Mindful Schools who are a US based training company.
Interesting quotes about mindfulness in Education
““If every 8 year old is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation” Dalai Lama
“It stops the scary stuff” 9 year old boy
“Nationally, the Mindfulness in Schools Project said it had trained nearly 2,000 teachers this year, a jump of 40% on last year, and much of that growth came from schools with higher than average proportions of vulnerable children.” The Guardian
“Children internalise things, but what mindfulness has done is bring a number of quieter children to the surface – children who we’d never have known were going through such anxiety and stress at home. They haven’t wanted to speak to their mum and dad about it but it’s coming out in these sessions.” Headteacher quoted in The Guardian
“It’s almost as though meditation was designed for kids. They just ‘get it’ – there is this elasticity and freedom in their minds which allows them to be present in the moment and free from any external thoughts or pressures.’ Andy Puddicombe, Founder of Headspace
“High quality education cannot be delivered by stressed and anxious teachers.” Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT states
“…without meditation, you’d (I’d) still be researching medieval military history — but not the Neanderthals or cyborgs.” Yuval Harari, author of Sapiens, Homo Deus and 21 Lesson for the 21st Century. HERE
To be aware of
The key point from this article is that mindfulness needs to be introduced properly.
Young people need to understand that happiness isn’t necessarily the most important emotion, that mindfulness is not the only answer and feelings of anxiety, fear etc are natural.
“If a child is suffering abuse at home, being given space and time for thoughts to drift through your head isn’t necessarily good,” “Schools need to be aware of the potential risks, even with the most seemingly nice of interventions.” Pooky Knightsmith vice-chair of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition
“Happiness becomes not something that sneaks up on you – something you might find when you’re looking at a sunset – but something you have to work at.” Ashley Frawley, author of Semiotics of Happiness
“We seem to be saying that some emotions are dangerous for children,” “I think it’s pathologising children.” “Saying, ‘Oh, God – anxiety’s bad, and we must eliminate that from children’s experience,’ is really absurd, and patronising as well. It’s easy to do quite a lot of damage with this.” Ian Morris, head of wellbeing at Wellington College who developed happiness lessons in 2006
A few quotes from Andre Tomin from Mental Elf
“There are all kinds of factors that could be in play for concentration to improve. It could be the placebo effect, ie children improving because they have been told they are going to be given something that will improve their concentration.”“